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National News

New York: Crowd Rallies for More State Funding to Fight AIDS

April 10, 2002

In Albany, N.Y., yesterday, hundreds of demonstrators rallied to demand more state funding to fight AIDS, and dozens were arrested after they blocked the doors to the state Capitol.

Organizers said about 500 people attended the midday rally, many coming from New York City. Following speeches and prayers, a smaller group blocked the building's entrance chanting, "AIDS won't wait for the budget debate." After 10 minutes, state troopers moved in to arrest them, starting with Assemblymember Roger Green (D-Brooklyn). The 61 people arrested were freed within hours, their cases adjourned in contemplation of dismissal.

Protesters said the Pataki administration's proposed budget would cut $18 million in treatment and outreach programs. They called for another $12 million targeted at the minority communities where most HIV/AIDS cases are occurring. "How dare you Governor Pataki... How dare you state legislators to play ball with the funding to save blacks and Latinos in New York state," Debra Fraser-Howze, founder of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, told the cheering crowd.

"When the epidemic had a different color the money was going up and up and up," said Dennis DeLeon of the Latino Commission on AIDS. "Now that the epidemic looks like us, the money is going down and down and down."

Rally organizer Michael Kind said Pataki's budget for fiscal 2002-03 would cut $7.9 million from $116 million in AIDS Institute funding, plus $10 million from $40 million for the Homeless Housing Assistance Program.

According to Kevin Quinn, spokesperson for the state Budget Division, Pataki's budget contains $2.3 billion overall to fight HIV/AIDS, including Medicaid, Health Department programs and AIDS Institute allocations. He said this was the highest level of funding in state history, and the protested amounts involve one-time items added to the budget by the Legislature two years ago.

Back to other CDC news for April 10, 2002

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Adapted from:
Associated Press
04.09.02; Michael Virtanen

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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